I would like to congratulate all the students who exhibited their work at the Visual Arts and Creative Arts Exhibition which opened Friday 13 November. The variety of work, which included paintings, sculpture, graphic design and photography, showcased the talents of many of our students and, in particular, the Year 12 students whose work was moderated earlier in the week.
In addition to this work, it was wonderful to see the work of the Stage 2 Fashion Design students who produced an amazing variety of garments which emphasised their creativity, perseverance and technical skill. It was also pleasing to see the teamwork between designer and model in several cases to ensure the clothing was presented the way the designer intended.
Knowing the background and personalities of the students, it emphasised the role that such creative pursuits play in allowing stories to be told and messages or statements to be made. This year the quality of work across all year levels was very impressive, with the Stage 2 Art students showing the benefit of being in the art programme for several years.
As a person who lacks artistic creativity, I am amazed by the results of the work of our students but such talent still needs to be guided, encouraged and developed by teachers. We are fortunate to have staff who not only have experience in exhibiting their own work but a passion for passing their knowledge onto their students. I would like to thank Fashion teacher Jude Depold and Art teachers Natalie Ziedas, Karen Horsell, Dee Barton and Kim Horn for their efforts over the years in creating an environment that encourages students to take risks and attempt new techniques and then have the confidence to show their work in a public setting.
In a normal year, I would be writing that on Thursday of this week we would be celebrating the individual achievements of many Year 12 students for their academic, sporting or performing arts talent at Speech Day. This would be followed by the Valedictory Service in the Michael Murray Centre, where each student is acknowledged as they are personally farewelled by the Principal, Simon Shepherd and their Head of House. This is a significant event as it is the last time the Class of 2020 would be in a group on campus in Westminster uniform. The Valedictory Dinner is the final farewell event before the Class of 2020 become Old Scholars.
As it has been said many times before, 2020 is an unprecedented year and it continues to be so with the news this week of the increase in COVID-19 cases causing the return of restrictions in South Australia. This is a year which has taken, given and challenged everyone in so many ways. It has taken away our normal routines and at times it has taken our freedoms and the ability to gather physically as a community. It has given us the opportunity to reflect on the importance of community. This was clearly evident on the first day of Term 2 when students returned to ‘normal’ school after planning for a long time away from the campus and from one another. It has also given us the courage to try new ways to come together and show community in a different way. Finally, it has challenged all of us to be innovative, resilient and have a growth mindset and be grateful for what we have been able to do as a school community throughout the year.
The students have thought of different ways to ‘tick’ the boxes of what would normally happen in a school year and I sincerely thank the Year 12s as a group for showing the leadership to the rest of the student body. A big thank you to School Captain Kaine Baldwin and Vice Captain Ruby Liptak for providing outstanding leadership and taking risks to bring the School together and encourage us to look at all we should be grateful for rather than looking at what we can’t do. There is no doubt that being a student in South Australia in 2020 was better than being a student elsewhere.
Often the ATAR is seen by many as the measure of how successful a student has been during their final year of school and whilst it does allow students to obtain direct entry into the University courses of their choice, it does not measure everything that a student learns and achieves during their schooling and the qualities they develop. The ability to take risks, to show support for one another, to be part of a team and to work collaboratively and engage confidently with others cannot necessarily be measured by a score but are essential in today’s ever-changing world. In my experience, these qualities are what characterises a Westminster Old Scholar and are sought after by employers.
I thank all the Year 12 students for the contribution they have made to Westminster and I wish them all the best for their futures whatever they may do and wherever they may travel (when they can!).
Head of Senior School